Folic acid deficiency
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A person suffering from folic acid deficiency will have very low levels of folic acid, a form of vitamin B. This causes a condition known as anemia that is brought about by very few red blood cells that grow to a huge size.

The body’s cells require folic acid to enable cells to grow and repair themselves. Folic acid is an important component of the body’s RNA and DNA, and it is needed for red blood cell formation. Folic acid is a kind of vitamin that is water-soluble and is manufactured by bacteria found in the intestines. Upon production, folic acid is stored within the liver for a period of time until it is released when the body needs it most.


Folic acid deficiency is a common and widespread vitamin deficiency that affects more men than women and occurs at the age of 30 years and older. As the body grows older, the ability to absorb folic acid is impeded. In pregnant women, folic acid deficiency has been pinpointed as among the causes of neural tube defects in the unborn fetus. In fact, one-half of all birth defects, lower birth weight, and adverse pregnancy outcomes are attributed to folic acid deficiency in pregnant women

When the body is unable to get sufficient amounts of folic acid, a condition known as folic acid deficiency anemia occurs. The B-vitamin folic acid plays a part in the manufacture of new cells, including red blood cells. These red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. A lack of adequate red blood cells may give rise to anemia. This condition makes a person feel constantly tired and weak.

While folic acid is present in food, some people are unable to get enough folic acid-rich food in their diet. Others have difficulty absorbing this B-vitamin from the food they consume. Normally, an adult requires a minimum of 400 mcg of folic acid daily. Pregnant women require double that amount, and when a woman is breastfeeding, they will need at least 1200 mcg of folic acid a day.

Folic acid deficiency occurs when a person is unable to get an adequate amount of food rich in folic acid. Dietary sources of folate include green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, oatmeal, red beans, wheat germ, liver, mushrooms, peanut butter, and soy. Folic acid deficiency anemia occurs when a person requires a greater volume of folic acid, as in the case of women who are pregnant or people suffering from medical conditions like sickle cell disease.
Folic acid deficiency
Image: Folic Acid Deficiency

When the body is unable to absorb folic acid from the food a person eats, a folic acid deficiency ensues. The inability to absorb folic acid may be due to several factors, which include alcohol abuse and kidney ailments that require dialysis or regular blood cleansing processes. Certain medications for cancer, seizures and rheumatoid arthritis may also cause folic acid deficiency as one of their side effects.


People who are at risk for developing folic acid deficiency are elderly individuals, people who are alcoholics, smokers, women who take birth control pills, people who are subject to a great deal of stress, and patients taking sulfa antibiotics or undergoing anticonvulsant therapy.


Folic acid deficiency causes anemia and other symptoms, such as fatigue, paleness, palpitations, weakness, paranoia, light-headedness, memory loss, lack of appetite, loss of weight, an eating disorder known as anorexia nervosa, low attention span, a tendency to have bad moods, and a sore or inflamed tongue.

Upon consultation, the doctor will take down the patient’s medical history and ascertain all the accompanying symptoms of folic acid deficiency anemia. The patient will also be subjected to a thorough physical examination and undertake various blood tests to measure the amount of hemoglobin in the body. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich substance responsible for carrying oxygen via the bloodstream.

The patient’s vitamin B12 level will be checked as well. Some people who exhibit symptoms of folic acid deficiency have low levels of vitamin B12, which are responsible for symptoms similar to folic acid deficiency anemia.


The goal in treating folic acid deficiency is to ensure that the patient gets enough of this B vitamin in their body in order to reduce symptoms and eliminate anemia. In line with this, the doctor may prescribe folic acid supplements and advise the patient to avoid any of the prohibited substances that may exacerbate the loss of folic. These substances include alcohol, antacids, phosphates that may be found in beer, soft drinks and ice cream, non-herbal tea, and tobacco.

The doctor will likewise recommend sufficient amounts of rest until the patient is able to restore enough energy in order to resume their day-to-day activities. Any complications that may arise, such as fever, chills, muscle aches and other non-related symptoms should necessitate a visit to the doctor, particularly if the symptoms of folic acid deficiency do not improve. This may indicate that the patient is suffering from a different kind of ailment that may include folic acid deficiency as one of the symptoms.

Other alternative remedies for folic acid deficiency include reflexology, particularly in the regions of the body that influence the spleen or the liver. Increased intake of food rich in folate will also be helpful. A mixture of yogurt and turmeric may help relieve patients of their symptoms, as well.

Folic acid deficiency can be treated within three weeks if the patient is able to take in an adequate amount of folic acid, either from food or from supplements. If left untreated, folic acid deficiency anemia may be responsible for the occurrence of infertility and may render the sufferer increasingly susceptible to various infections. In some cases, severe deficiencies can lead to congestive heart failure.


To prevent folic acid deficiency from occurring, consuming raw or slightly cooked green leafy vegetables on a daily basis is sufficient to maintain normal levels of folic acid in the body. Taking at least 400 mcg of this B vitamin will work, as well. Women who reach childbearing age should also increase their intake of folic acid to prevent the incidence of birth defects during pregnancy.
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